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Boston Globe Suspends Columnist Kevin Cullen

Kevin Cullen made up a dramatic story he told an audience during a presentation about the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, one of several problematic occurrences that led The Boston Globe to suspend the columnist without pay, the newspaper said.

The Globe commissioned two reviews of Cullen’s work after Kirk Minihane on sports talk radio WEEI questioned Cullen’s apparent suggestions in post-bombing interviews that he was at the finish line when the bombings occurred. (He wasn’t.)

“These were interviews I gave when I’d been up all night. I’d been drinking. And I was really upset,” Cullen told the Globe’s reviewers, according to the newspaper.

In August 2013, Cullen told a story to an audience of journalism educators about running into a Boston deputy fire chief at the Eire Pub in Dorchester the night of the bombing and then talking on the deputy chief’s cell phone to another firefighter who had supposedly rescued Marathon bombing victim Jane Richard and then gone back to try to find her missing leg.

“It is clear from interviews with the firefighters Mr. Cullen has cited that the episode simply did not happen,” the review states. “Mr. Cullen’s answer to our questions about it — that he does not remember telling that story — doesn’t change the fact that he did, as the C-SPAN video attests.”

The Globe determined that Cullen damaged his credibility but didn’t destroy it, leading the paper to punish him without firing him.

“The Marathon bombing columns and interviews, and particularly the not-believable tale he told in August of 2013, have now put a cloud over all his work. Some readers and colleagues may be willing to forgive or overlook his mistakes, perhaps seeing them as an aberration in an otherwise praiseworthy career. Others will find their trust in him eroded or gone, along with their acceptance of him as one of the Globe’s signature columnist,” says a Globe review of Cullen’s post-bombing interviews and other statements. The review was written by Kathleen Carroll, a former Associated Press executive editor, and Tom Fiedler, the former executive editor of the Associated Press, and Tom Fiedler, dean of the College of Communication at Boston University.

After the suspension, Cullen will have to work for two months as a general assignment reporter before getting his column back, the Globe said.

The Newspaper Guild is fighting the suspension, a union official said.

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